They’re back. The 107th legislature convenes in Lincoln

They’re back. The 107th Legislature First Session – that’s the long 90-day session in which a budget must be drafted and ideas (some new, some warmed-over) presented to the nation’s only nonpartisan onehouse lawmaking body.

Business for the 32 Republicans and 17 Democrats will be conducted in a Plexiglas-partitioned, socially distanced George W. Norris Legislative Chamber that looks nothing like what the Nebraska statesman envisioned in the 30s. In fact, perhaps the first order of business for the 36 men and 13 women will be to decide if they are going to hit go or pause because of the pandemic. They’ll likely want to select a Speaker and committee chairs, as usual, first.

The thing that complicates all of this is the traditional transparency of the Nebraska Legislature. Public hearings are held on every bill before committees vote to kill them or advance them to three rounds of debate by the full legislature. The public shows up for those hearings, often in droves. How can that be safely accomplished during a pandemic?

 

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